The matchup between the No. 8 Villanova Wildcats and the No. 12 Maine Black Bears was one of the most anticipated FCS matchups of the weekend. Although the score makes it look closer than it was, the game ended up being not much of a game at all as the Wildcats defeated the Black Bears, 33-17.
The Wildcats carried their momentum into the game right away, scoring on a 9-play 80-yard drive which culminated in a 3-yard rushing touchdown from freshman running back Dee Wil Barlee. Villanova would follow that up by stifling the Maine offense and then scoring on a 77-yard pass from Daniel Smith to Changa Hodge. Following a blocked punt by Elijah Solomon that was recovered by Barlee, kicker Drew Kresge would extend the Wildcats’ lead to 16-0. Sophomore cornerback Elijah Trent then ended the quarter by intercepting Maine’s Chris Ferguson to give the Wildcats the ball back in the red zone. The pick was Trent’s third on the season to take the team lead.
The Wildcats would continue to light up the scoreboard in the 2nd quarter, with Daniel Smith scoring a pair of 7-yard touchdown rushes on two consecutive drives. The rout continued in the 2nd, as Villanova held the Maine offense to only 157 yards in the first half. The Black Bears finally started to move the ball on offense towards the end of the quarter, only for Darius Pickett to intercept Ferguson in the end zone for his first career interception. Maine would finally get on the board with a 44-yard field goal to close out the half.
After the halftime break, Maine came out firing to make the game competitive by. getting downfield on a 55-yard pass and then scoring on a “Philly Special” type play, where wide receiver Earnest Edwards took the reverse pitch and then passed it to wide receiver Andre Miller for the touchdown. In addition, they managed to hold Villanova’s offense to a three-and-out on their first drive of the half and held the Wildcats to only 55 yards in the 3rd. Still, the Black Bears offense reverted to their lackluster ways and failed to move the ball for the rest of the quarter, ending the 3rd at 30-10.
Villanova’s defense continued to make impact plays in the 4th quarter, including a sack on 4th and 14 by captain linebacker Drew Wiley and a later fumble recovery by Wiley, as well. However, the Black Bears would manage a 32-yard passing touchdown to make the score 33-17 with 3:07 remaining. However, the Wildcats would run the ball to end the game following a failed onside kick to put the game on ice.
The Wildcats’ victory would extend their winning streak to 5 games, giving them an undefeated 5-0 record and a 2-0 record in the CAA. With another consecutive win over a top 15 team, the Wildcats will likely jump up in the rankings once more.
Villanova will take on William and Mary on the road next Saturday for their third CAA matchup. Kickoff is set for 3:30 pm.